The League

Dan Parker
Browns Blogger

Dan Parker

DP is a Cleveland Browns' season ticket holder and currently writes for the Cleveland sports site Waiting For Next Year.

Does it matter?

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I know it's a cop-out to say that I'm firmly on the fence about the prospects of Mike Holmgren coming to the Browns' front office, but in truth it's exactly where I am. Part of the problem is that watching the Browns this year has become so much of a farce that it has all but numbed me to the goings-on in this soap opera organization. Leave it to the Browns of 2009 to be 20 times more exciting during their bye week than at any point on the actual field this year.

It's clear that the Browns' ship needs a new captain. The inmates have been running the asylum for far too long. Dating back to Butch Davis's hiring in 2001 when he brought buddy Pete Garcia along from "The U" and solidified all of the power for himself -- and then subsequently ran Ron Wolf out of town after two weeks on the job in early 2004 -- Randy Lerner has consistently made the wrong hires (though he didn't actually hire Davis; his father did). And so, it is with this in mind that I ask myself the rhetorical question: "Does it matter who Lerner hires?" The team is so messed up that it will be nearly impossible to fix anyway, and it seems that even when he makes the good hire (I was definitely pro-Phil Savage at the time) it doesn't work. The biggest chicken/egg problem for the Browns is that they need someone with a proven track record. Yet, how do you lure someone with a proven track record to a franchise this bad?

Enter Holmgren. He certainly has the coaching resume. But, he enjoyed playoff success as a coach only when there was a GM working above him (Wolf in Green Bay, and Tim Ruskell in Seattle, with apologies to Bob Ferguson). This is not to say Holmgren was horrible as the coach/GM in Seattle; they made the playoffs in his first year. It's just that he wasn't super successful as the GM, as evidenced by his termination in 2002 to focus solely on the duties as coach. So, then, my question would be: why not just hire him as the coach? It's clear that Eric Mangini has not done himself any favors this season both on the field and in this whole GM debacle as more information comes out. So, why wait? You're talking to one of the best coaches of this generation, and NOT asking him to come and coach your team?

Enter the bank accounts. The Browns are currently paying Romeo Crennel NOT to coach the team for three more years. They are currently paying Phil Savage NOT to be the general manager for four more years. They are currently actively trying to weasel out of paying George Kokinis NOT to be the GM for several more years. They are on the hook to pay Eric Mangini to coach the team for three and a half more years. So, it would stand to reason that they don't want to pay THREE GMs and THREE coaches at the same time. Is that a great reason to keep a bad coach? Probably not. But is it a reality? Sure enough.

Which brings us back to Holmgren as a GM. While the discussion of his GM tenure in Seattle above is certainly one of my reservations, he would have a few things in his corner if he were to take a front office job (be it as GM, or as the Parcells-like head of football operations). He has the kind of personality to keep Mangini in check. He has the experience and relationships around the league to attract GOOD football people to an otherwise decrepit organization. And, he's generally had a good enough eye for talent to be successful... and the Browns certainly need talent. Those factors are what it comes down to for me when I force myself to pick a side on Holmgren specifically.

The GM/head of football operations is the most important cog in the success of a franchise. As much as it pains me to say it, one need look no further than the Browns' arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers. They've won two Super Bowls in the last four seasons with two different head coaches and several changes in player personnel. Why? Because they have smart football people behind the scenes running the show. It starts with the Rooneys, and trickles down into their front office. And that's what the Browns need. They need a smart person calling ALL of the shots in the front office. They need accountability above the head coach. They need someone to come in and designate roles for personnel, coaching, and front office staff. It's true that a good coach can bring a few more wins to a team in any given season. But, it's the architects of the staff and roster that can build sustainable success over the long-term.

And, after a decade with only two winning seasons and one playoff game (a loss to those pesky Steelers), I'm ready for something else.

By Dan Parker  |  November 9, 2009; 10:06 AM ET  | Category:  Cleveland Browns , Seattle Seahawks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Does it matter? No. You could have Jesus as Head Coach and Moses as GM and the Browns would still lose

Posted by: carsoo | November 9, 2009 5:39 PM

carsoo -the browns don't need you as a fan ---you're a mess!

Posted by: hansonharley1 | November 11, 2009 6:40 AM

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